01/10/2013 01:38 pm ET Updated Mar 12, 2013

RG3 and 'The Big D'

I live in the Seattle area so, naturally, I saw the Seahawks play the Washington Redskins this past Sunday. After suffering the almost unbearable tension of immediately falling behind 14-0, I watched as the Seahawks went on to score 24 unanswered points and advance in the playoffs for the first time since 1983. That game has certainly given those of us in the Pacific Northwest something else to talk about besides the rain. And we're not the only ones talking.

When the Redskins' rookie quarterback phenom, Robert Griffin III, better known as RG3, buckled in the 4th quarter, with his already-injured knee twisting in ways decidedly unnatural, my first thought was, "We didn't touch him!" RG3 wasn't taken out by a rabid, rushing Seattle defense. RG3 was taken out by a different kind of "D," one I see in my counseling practice all the time. The "D" that took out RG3 was denial.

Watching that game, I knew he was hurt. Those watching with me knew he was hurt. The announcers knew he was hurt. Coach Shanahan and RG3 knew he was hurt but, apparently, that knowledge wasn't enough. At least in the minds of Shanahan and RG3, there is a difference between being hurt and being injured. According to Shanahan, "I talked to Robert and Robert said to me, 'Coach, there's a difference between injured and being hurt. I guarantee I'm hurting right now; give me a chance to win this football game because I guarantee I'm not injured.' So that was enough for me." That was enough for the Seahawks, as well.

I've read opinion pieces blaming Shanahan; others blaming RG3, with Jason Whitlock defining the problem as arrogance. I guess the arrogance of a super-athlete is one way to look at this but I tend to see it as the perfectly human tendency to deny the truth that's staring you full in the face. None of us wants to believe the worst. I see it all the time. Instead of a knee buckling, it's a life buckling, while the person insists that everything is "fine" and all they need is another "chance." When dealing with the five stages of grief, the first hurdle is denial. The catastrophe, whatever it is, simply cannot be happening, cannot be as bad, cannot possibly be true. Yet it is and the consequences at some point must be dealt with.

In the glare of the big game, RG3 was focused on his identity as Superman and overlooked the other one. "I'm the quarterback, it doesn't matter what percentage I am. If you can play, you play." Except when you can't. When you spend so much time being Superman, it's easy to forget Clark Kent.

At 22, RG3 has practically his whole life ahead of him, even though he's lived quite a bit up until now. Whether or not or how much that whole life ahead includes football remains to be seen, based up medical tests, possible surgeries and probable rehab during the off season. Whatever the extent of his injuries, RG3 has got a fight on his hands so it's a good thing he's a warrior. As he tweeted after the game, "When adversity strikes you respond in one of two ways ... You step aside and give in ... Or you step up and fight."

When I was growing up, I remember hearing this proverb; I always liked it because it rhymed -- He who fights and runs away may live to fight another day. But he who is in battle slain will never rise to fight again. I'd really like to see RG3 rise to fight another day. He's amazing when he's Superman.

This week, the Seattle Seahawks are on to Atlanta. I'm rooting for us to go all the way, even though, to some, that may seem like a case of denial.